Sherni review: This Vidya Balan-starrer exposes every day patriarchy through its brilliant narrative

The title says more about the protagonist of this film, Vidya Vincent (Vidya Balan), than the actual tigress. In a well-fleshed out character, Vidya plays a forest officer (DPO), who is pitted against the influential and powerful men around her and their misogyny. Vidya’s duties include making sure that the poor villagers don’t become victims of the tigress’ ire, while trying to protect the tigress and her cubs. Apart from being caught in a political drama between a local MLA and a former legislator (Satyakam Anand), Vidya also has to struggle against a weak-willed corrupt superior (Brijesh Kala) and an aggressive hunter (Sharad Saxena). Her professionalism and good intent is side-lined because she is a woman.

Vidya Balan is the best fit to play a woman who doesn’t protest openly when faced with misogyny and disrespect and continues doing her work with integrity. While Vidya's character is still struggling to find her way around patronising men, she also has to defend the actions of the tigress who is forced to come out of her habitat due to the negligence and corruption of the people. It seems like both the protagonist of the film and the animal in question are stuck in a trap-like situation.

This might look like a man-animal conflict at the outset, but it is much more than that. Director Amit Masurkar, whose last film Newton went on to win many laurels, along with writer Aastha Tiku, converts this into a brilliant narrative that exposes every day patriarchy and the unquenchable human greed in the process.

Vidya yet again shows us why she is considered one of the most dependable actresses from the current generation. Sans makeup and other paraphernalia, Vidya plays this powerful role with raw vulnerability and leaves a solid impact. She finds support in a fantastic bunch of actors around her, which includes Vijay Raaz, Brijendra Kala and Neeraj Kabi.

Brilliant cinematography by Rakesh Haridas makes you feel like you are part of the forest and are right in the midst of the action. Masurkar and his team, like his earlier movie Newton, manage to cover a whole lot of ground about the current social and political issues that need to be talked about. This is an important film and shouldn’t be missed.

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